There are so many different ways to wish your friends, family members, or coworkers a positive and enjoyable day in the English language. You see these well-wishes everywhere, from casual conversations to formal sign-offs. But what about one of the shortest versions of this greeting: “be well”?
It is correct to say “be well,” especially when you wish someone a generally positive experience as you are saying goodbye. When you say “be well,” you express that you hope that they are generally doing well — that they are healthy and happy overall. It also has a broad timeframe; it expresses the idea, “I hope you have been, are, and will continue to be well.”
Let’s explore some of the most popular questions about the phrase “be well” and look at some different ways that we wish a great day to our friends, family members, and coworkers.
What Does “Be Well” Mean?
“Be well” is a quick way to say, “I hope that every aspect of your life, from your health to your job to your family, is going well.” The phrase “be well” expresses a positive wish for a great life overall and is a more positive way to say goodbye.
The key word in the phrase is the adjective “well,” which means “prosperous, well-off” or “being in satisfactory condition or circumstances (source). So, when you use the imperative expression “be well,” you’re essentially saying “May you and your life be prosperous and satisfactory.”
Let’s take a closer look at how we can use the expression “be well” and how to avoid common mistakes with the phrase.
How Do You Use “Be Well”?
Generally, you should use the expression “be well” alone as its own sentence as you are saying goodbye. The expression is in the imperative mood, which frequently implies that the subject is “you.” So, even without saying the subject, the listener knows that the speaker is directing the phrase at them.
We use the imperative mood to give commands, ask for help, and extend well-wishes to our friends, family members, and coworkers. To build the imperative mood, you start with the simple form of the verb, which some call “verb 1,” and omit the subject of the sentence (source).
In some cases, the verb in the imperative mood doesn’t even need an object. For example, imagine a police officer who shouts, “Stop!” That’s a complete sentence in the imperative mood. They’ve implied the subject is “you,” and a direct object isn’t necessary.
The grammar of the expression “be well” is the same: you don’t need to say the subject “you,” and you use the simple form of the verb “to be.” However, the thing that makes “be well” different is the adjective after the verb.
That adjective “well” lends clarity and positivity to the phrase. It shows your listener that you don’t just want them to “be” or “exist,” but that you want them to be in general good health and spirits.
If you want to learn more about using interjectory phrases correctly, have a look at our article “To Bad or Too Bad: Meaning, Grammar, and Proper Usage.”
When Can You Use “Be Well”?
We usually see the phrase “be well” at the end of a conversation or correspondence. It is a quick sentence that you can add to the “goodbye” phase of the communication. Often, it is the last thing that you say or write before ending the conversation.
In a written communication such as an email or message, you can write “be well” as the sign-off. The sign-off is the little phrase you put right before you sign your name at the end of a message. Using “be well” as the sign-off is a great way to end the message on a positive note!
In What Context Can You Use “Be Well”?
Often, we use the phrase “be well” at the end of a conversation or correspondence. This means that it’s really common to hear “be well” at the end of a phone call before saying “goodbye” or to see “be well” at the end of an email or message.
The phrase “be well” is a great way to end any conversation or correspondence on a high note and make sure that the person you’re talking to leaves the interaction with a positive feeling.
When Not to Use “Be Well”
Some might confuse the phrase “be well” with the expression “get well soon.” However, these two little expressions operate in very different circumstances.
While you use the phrase “be well” when you’re expressing a wish for a generally good life, you specifically use the expression “get well soon” when someone is ill or sick. So while “be well” has a very general meaning, “get well soon” needs a more specific context.
You can say “get well soon” to someone recovering from an illness or surgery. It’s the proper greeting for wishing someone a full and speedy recovery, and you’ll often see “get well soon” printed on cards or messages for people who are sick.
So, even though “be well” and “get well soon” seem to have really similar definitions, the connotation and context for these two phrases are very different!
Using “Be Well” in a Full Sentence
Also, because the phrase “be well” is a quick shorthand in the imperative mood, you must adjust the expression grammatically according to the context. For example, if you want to use “be well” in a full sentence, you need to alter the form of the phrase a bit.
First of all, you should add a subject before the verb “be.” For instance, you might be speaking about yourself and your family, so you’ll use the subject “we.” Then, you need to adjust the verb but keep the adjective. Let’s try an example in the simple present tense:
- We are well.
It seems a bit too simple, doesn’t it? However, all we did was add a subject, adjust the verb for the correct tense and number, and keep the adjective the same after the verb.
What about using “be well” in a noun clause? This is a really popular way to use “be well” in a complete sentence, especially at the beginning of an email or message.
To use “be well” in a noun clause, we should first add a subject and a verb that often comes with a that-clause; such verbs usually describe mental action (source). Then, we’ll use “be well” in the that-clause as the verb’s direct object. So let’s give it a go:
- I hope that you are well.
Again, it was a pretty easy fix! We just added the subject “I” at the beginning, then used a noun clause as the direct object of the verb “hope.” Then, within the noun clause, we used the correct tense and number for the verb “be” and kept the predicate adjective “well” at the end.
So, once you see how easy it is to add a subject and adjust the verb “to be” appropriately, you’ll have no problem using “be well” in a complete sentence!
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Be Well”?
Although the phrase “be well” doesn’t quite look like a complete sentence on its own, it is grammatically correct to say “be well.” This is because “be well” is a phrase in the imperative mood, so it doesn’t need a subject or even an object.
So, because the expression “be well” is in the imperative mood, and even though the whole phrase is just a verb and an adjective, it is grammatically correct. The most appropriate usage of the phrase “be well” is as a sign-off in written communication or a nice wish when it’s time to say goodbye at the end of a conversation.
What Can You Use Instead of “Be Well”?
There are a lot of ways to wish someone well without saying “be well.” Some of the most popular phrases to use instead of “be well” include:
- Have a great day/week
- Best wishes
- Take care
- All the best
- Here’s to an amazing week/day ahead
- Stay awesome
- Be blessed
You can use any of these alternatives to “be well” when you’re ending a spoken conversation or a written correspondence. All of these options express positive wishes for the person you’re speaking with.
Distinguishing Parts of Speech: “Well” vs. “Good”
The words “well” and “good” are really similar because they stem from the same definition; that is, they mean the same thing. However, when it comes to the form and grammar of these two words, some key differences impact when and how we use them (source).
Let’s dive into the significant differences in usage between “well” and “good” and explore some examples to use these two words correctly every time.
“Well” Is Often an Adverb
We often use the word “well” as an adverb, which means we use it to describe verbs. Basically, adverbs can answer the questions “How?” or “In what manner?” when explaining the action in a sentence.
Let’s check out an example for some more clarity on the topic:
Sarah speaks French very well, and her accent is perfect!
In this example, we can see the adverb “well” right after the main verb, “to speak French.” The adverb “well” answers the questions “How does Sarah speak French?” and/or “In what manner does Sarah speak French?” The answer is, “very well!”
Now, let’s compare the adverb “well” with the adjective in the sentence, “perfect.” Here, “perfect” is an adjective because it describes Sarah’s accent. And, since Sarah’s accent is a noun, “perfect” must be an adjective.
You’ll notice that the adverb in a sentence usually comes immediately after the verb or action it describes. On the other hand, an adjective will usually come either right before the noun it describes or follow the verb “to be” when describing the subject.
Of course, when the word “well” comes after a linking verb (such as the verb “to be”), it is a predicate adjective. So, sometimes “well” can be an adjective, but when you see it in a sentence with an action verb, it’s definitely an adverb.
“Good” Is Always an Adjective
The word “good” is an adjective, which means we use “good” to describe nouns. And “good” is ONLY an adjective — it’s not flexible like the word “well” in formal or academic English.
So, we can only use “good” to describe people, places, things, ideas, feelings, or experiences. Let’s have a look at some examples to clarify the difference between the adverb “well” and the adjective “good.”
I went to a good restaurant, where I enjoyed a good performance by a good band and ate some good food.
However, you cannot replace the word “good” with “well” in those examples because “well” is an adverb that describes verbs. So instead, you could say that you went to a good restaurant where you’ll enjoy a good performance by a band that plays well and enjoy some food someone cooked very well.
From these examples, you can see the role of “good” as an adjective that describes nouns and the role of “well” as an adverb that describes verbs. And once again, you can see how the adjective usually comes either right before the noun that it describes, or else it describes the subject with the verb “to be.”
Of course, when you have the verb “to be,” you can also use “well” as a predicate adjective to describe the subject of that sentence. This article was originally written for strategiesforparents.com.
For more on the key differences between the adverb “well” and the adjective “good,” check out our article “Doing Well or Doing Good: Can Both Be Correct?”
The expression “be well” is a complete sentence in the imperative mood, and we use it to wish our friends, family members, and coworkers a generally positive experience. “Be well” encompasses a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, which makes it an easy way to express good wishes and intentions.
Sometimes, people often confuse the phrase “be well” with the expression “get well soon.” However, while you can “be well” to express general positive wishes, you should only use “get well soon” if you’re talking to someone who is sick or recovering.
Other times, people confuse the adverb “well” with the adjective “good.” Remember, an adverb describes how or in what manner an action is done, but an adjective describes a person, place, thing, idea, feeling, or experience.
Overall, the phrase “be well” is a great way to let your friends, family members, and coworkers know that you want good things for them. In addition, it’s a great way to sign off an email or end a conversation since it finishes the communication on a positive note.